Muqtada al-Sadr Alliance Wins Elections in Iraq

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It may be Abadi, Reuters reports, who has signaled a willingness to work with Sadr to form a working government.

Moqtada al-Sadr, the Shia cleric whose Mahdi Army bloodied the nose of the USA military in the battle of Fallujah in 2004 that left eight Kellogg, Brown and Root transport drivers and three US soldiers dead and who was considered an "outlaw", has won Iraq's parliamentary election.

As if heightened tensions in Syria and Yemen and increased divisions in the U.S-Iran and Iran-Israel relations were not enough, a surprise-albeit still preliminary-election result in OPEC's second-largest producer Iraq could add further tensions to the Saudi-Iran rivalry and could turn Iraq in the next battle for influence in the Middle East, Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, told CNBC on Tuesday.

What exactly do the results show?

Voter turnout was 44.52 per cent, the Independent High Electoral Commission said, significantly lower than in previous elections.

After the 2003 US-led invasion, Sadr's Mahdi Army militia battled U.S. forces, and he is now calling for American troops to leave following last year's defeat of IS.

Sadr and his militia played central roles in the wave of sectarian bloodshed that peaked in 2006-2007, but he eventually froze the militia's activities in a move the United States credited with sharply reducing violence.

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Sadr has led two uprisings against US forces in Iraq and is one of the few Shiite leaders to distance himself from Iran.

In recent years, Mr Sadr has distanced himself from Iran and reinvented himself as an Iraqi nationalist and anti-corruption campaigner.

Prolonged negotiations between the main political groups are likely before a new government can be formed.

For this year's elections, Mr Sadr's party and its allies campaigned on a platform of fighting corruption and investing in public services. Full results are due to be officially announced later on Monday.

Whoever is named prime minister will have to oversee the reconstruction of Iraq following the battle against IS, which seized control of large parts of the country in 2014. Although al-Sadr won't be prime minister because he himself didn't run in the election, he will have the power to name the next leader-and this could seriously influence Iraq's politics and policies.

Worldwide donors pledged $30bn (£22bn) at a conference in February but Iraqi officials have estimated that as much as $100bn is required. Of more than 2 million Iraqis displaced by the war, the majority are Sunnis.

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